It has begun.
After a season full of horrific offensive line play, both from players brought in during the 2016 offseason and players that had hung around from before, the Vikings have started cleaning house.
Fusco was drafted by the Vikings in the sixth round of the 2011 draft (172 overall) and had been off and on as a starting guard for the Vikings since 2012. The 28-year old played particularly well in 2013, sustained one of the Vikings’ several pectoral injuries in 2014, and was never the same.
He had been moved back and forth between right and left guard and was never able to show quite the same level of promise as he did in 2013. Fusco’s release saves the Vikings just under $3.2 million in 2017, $5 million in 2018, and $5.77 million in 2019.
Harris went undrafted in 2012 and latched on with the San Diego Chargers. Harris played in 20 games for the Chargers from 2012-2013, starting 12 as a swing tackle. After being placed on IR early in the 2013 season, he was released on August 30, 2014. He signed with the Vikings the very next day, and spent two seasons with the Vikings; first as a backup/spot starter in 2014, then as a full-time starter in 2015.
Harris’ first full season starting was very impressive, and was expected to a major part of a revamped Vikings offensive line last season. Then he was unexpectedly placed on injured reserve on August 30th, and the team never truly clarified what was wrong with him. Despite rumors saying he was either going to retire or be able to play, Harris’ condition never improved enough for him to get a doctor’s clearance. Harris’ release does not impact the Vikings’ cap, as he was signed to a one-year deal in 2016 that did not feature a cap hit.
Neither players is a truly unexpected cut, but it’s always nice to see a team being proactive with addressing the biggest issue from the team in 2016. We can only hope the Vikings are this aggressive in free agency next month.